Alaska/Oranges - The Summer I Joined the Harlem Globetrotters Split EP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 10, 2012
A title like The Summer I Joined The Harlem Globetrotters Split EP might induce a laugh or a chuckle at best, but this split between two fairly different, young bands is completely the opposite. While Alaska is making their next move post a pretty decent showing on their Palcaptain EP from earlier this year, Oranges is still pretty fresh with seemingly this and only another single released at this point. In any case, the meeting between the two has an interesting connection in terms of musicality – Alaska bringing a slightly aggressive Wave sound to the table while Oranges is much less describable sound steeped in dynamic structures and constantly wavering textures. In any case, the youth present in these two bands doesn’t outweigh the variety and musicianship heard between the two, making this split a solid outing for both bands.
Alaska had a bit too much of La Dispute in their prior EP, but these two tracks do a bit more to separate themselves from sounding exactly like that band while not completely abandoning the post-hardcore sound they crafted before. “Kiteflyer” has a solid groove and strong melodies that remind a bit of Thursday more than anything else, while the vocals seem much more under control this time around. The second of their tracks, “Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money” is a bit too busy at points to truly hit with the strength it could, although the musicianship here is worth noting. Dynamically, this is the stronger, if the mellower of the two tracks, as Alaska’s side of the split has no shortage of loud-soft sways and melodic slinging regardless of the abrasion. I wouldn’t hesitate to say the band has made some noticeable improvements since Palcaptain though, as these two tracks put them right where they should be in terms of building upon that sound without losing their musicianship or melodic deployment in the process.
Oranges on the other hand is a different story. Not that their half is a lessened version of Alaska’s by any means, but the band’s sound is undoubtedly different and arguably unpredictable even as the songs progress. “Jackie Chan, Around the World in 80 Days” uses melody in a different way, slinging mathy riffs in a notion akin to This Town Needs Guns before transporting us through backdrop after backdrop of sonic separation. In terms of musicianship, these guys play the shit out of their instruments. But as songwriters, the ideas are a bit too jumbled even for a progressive-leaning band. “If Only You Were President” starts as a bluesy number, almost instantly reminding of a scene from an old noir. But when the electric guitars kick in, the restrained riffs and punched grooves are like songwriting gold. It is a moment like there where you wish the band would build a bit more off of such fantastic moments, but they instead venture into noodly guitars and sporadic percussion. Kudos to these guys for truly trying to write jams and not songs, and in that aspect it truly works, but you can’t help but feel like Oranges feel a bit out of place here.
While arguably sure to go their separate ways in terms of drawing points, there’s something to take away from each band regardless of anything mentioned here. Musicianship, songwriting and vigor all have their place on this split, it’s really just a matter of finding it.